Technology is one of the most important determining factors in sustained economic growth. Technology underpins America's fastest growing industries and high wage jobs; it provides the tools necessary to compete in every business today.
But global competition is intensifying. Nations everywhere are developing a range of policies and programs to enhance the competitiveness of their industries and to fuel technology-driven growth and job creation.
In partnership with industry, the Administration has sought to address these economic and competitive realities by developing domestic and international policies and programs that enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace and maximize technology's contribution to national economic growth, job creation, and quality of life.
Led by the Under Secretary for Technology, the Technology Administration—the Office of Technology Policy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Technical Information Service—serves as the focal point for these efforts, advocating an industry-driven agenda to ensure that American companies and workers have the tools they need to compete and win in today's global economy.
Specifically, the Technology Administration:
To continue the successful implementation of this civilian technology agenda, the President requests:
Office of the Under Secretary/Office of Technology Policy:
Total funding requested: $10 million
National Institute of Standards and Technology:
Total funding requested: $715 million
National Technical Information Service:
No funds requested; NTIS is a self-supporting agency.
President Clinton requests $10 million for the Office of the Under Secretary for Technology and the Office of Technology Policy (US/OTP) for FY 1999. This request supports the most basic US/OTP core competencies and functions necessary to meet critical Administration and Congressional civilian technology priorities.
The request, which is an increase of $1.5 million from the FY 1998 appropriation, supports the Under Secretary as he oversees TA's three operating units and coordinates and leads several interagency civilian technology efforts. It also maintains OTP's role as the federal government's principal civilian technology policy analyst and advocate. Most of the increase will be used to strengthen the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology (EPSCoT), which fosters development of indigenous technology assets in states and regions traditionally under-represented in federal R&D funding.
In addition to providing broad policy guidance to the Secretary, the Under Secretary serves as an advocate for innovation and industrial competitiveness within and outside of government. As a member of the executive board of the Committee on Technology of the President's National Science and Technology Council, the Under Secretary helps to establish clear national goals for federal science and technology investments, ensuring that federal civilian R&D priorities reflect industry needs. The committee currently is coordinating several major Administration initiatives in materials, construction and building, manufacturing infrastructure, electronics, and automotive technologies.
The Under Secretary also chairs the oversight committee for the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) initiative, a technological venture involving eight federal agencies, 19 national laboratories, the nation's automakers, universities, and hundreds of automotive suppliers. These organizations have united to advance manufacturing methods; develop technologies to improve automobile efficiency, safety, and emissions; and conduct research that could lead to vehicle prototypes with a threefold improvement in fuel efficiency.
In addition, US/OTP will continue to build its U.S. Innovation Partnership, manage the Office of Air and Space Commercialization, and continue its Partnerships for a Competitive Economy effort.
The President's proposal will enable US/OTP to:
Justification and Description
Technology has never been more important to our nation's well-being. The world's consumers expect a continuous stream of new and improved products and services at competitive prices. They routinely anticipate advances in all sectors of the economy, along with the creation of entirely new industries.
Developing and promoting the use of technologies is key to meeting these expectations--which in turn will create wealth, economic growth, and jobs. Civilian technology truly has become the engine for economic growth.
US/OTP works in partnership with the private sector to develop, coordinate, and advocate national policies that maximize technology's contributions to U.S. competitiveness, economic growth, high-wage job creation, and living standard improvements for all Americans. US/OTP seeks to maximize the effectiveness of federal investments in research and development through an integrated technology policy that encourages commercialization of government-supported research.
US/OTP also strives to create a business environment that fosters innovation and enhances the competitiveness of U.S. industry, domestically and internationally. This includes assessing the impact of proposed laws and regulations on U.S. competitiveness; formulating and advocating for new policies that foster innovation; and creating bilateral and multilateral frameworks that provide access to foreign technology.
Among US/OTP highlights for 1997:
In addition to its core competencies in domestic and international technology policy, US/OTP leads and manages several high-priority Presidential initiatives, including the National Medal of Technology, Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, and U.S. Innovation Partnership.
The National Medal of Technology is the nation's highest honor for technological achievement. Presented annually by the President, the congressionally mandated award recognizes outstanding American technologists and companies whose efforts and innovations have contributed substantially to the nation's economic strength, the quality of American life, or the development of a technically trained workforce. In FY 1999, US/OTP plans to increase the number of high-quality medal nominations by 20 percent, extend outreach to under-represented communities, and advise states seeking to establish technology medal programs.
Achieving the goals of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles would contribute to a cleaner environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil, improve the balance of trade, preserve high-quality American jobs, and contribute to U.S. auto industry competitiveness. The public-private partnership aims to produce the technologies required for a new generation of vehicles with decreased emissions and three times the fuel efficiency of 1994 American family sedans--at equivalent ownership costs. In the next year, US/OTP will support the integration of PNGV technologies into year 2000 concept cars designed by Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors and coordinate complementary technical activities with the Department of Defense.
In the U.S. Innovation Partnership, US/OTP collaborates with the nation's governors to establish a national innovation system. The partnership aims to spur regional technology-based economic growth and high-wage job creation by effectively leveraging the resources of U.S. industry; academia; and federal, state, and local governments. In FY 1999, the partnership will conduct regional meetings, workshops, and expert symposia to set priorities, identify needs and best practices in state and regional technology-based economic development, and disseminate lessons learned to states and regions.
In FY 1999, US/OTP requests an additional $1.4 million to fund an expansion of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology. EPSCoT will stimulate technology commercialization in eligible states by promoting partnerships between state governments, universities, community colleges, and the private sector. EPSCoT is the technology counterpart to the National Science Foundation's successful Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), established in 1979 to spur high-quality research in these regions.
Technology development, diffusion, and infrastructure are essential to create jobs and generate sustainable economic growth. Unfortunately, many regions in the United States lack the scientific and technological infrastructure that catalyzes the formation of regional clusters, which help attract global investment. EPSCoT seeks to fill this technology gap, fostering regional technology-based economic growth through stronger linkages among firms; universities; workers; and federal, state, and local governments. Specifically, EPSCoT supports state efforts to build state-wide institutional capacity to aid technology commercialization, to create a business climate favorable to entrepreneurs bringing ideas into the marketplace, and to participate competitively in federal R&D programs.
EPSCoT awards are made on a competitive, cost-shared, merit basis to local governments, regional organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and federal laboratories from Puerto Rico and the 18 states currently part of the NSF EPSCoR. The awards, made for a specific period of time, are to help create or build upon unique technology infrastructures to achieve long-term systematic changes in each state's abilities to support technology-based economic growth. Applicants must contribute at least 25 percent toward the total project cost.
The proposed funding increase will allow US/OTP to increase the number of awards made under the program and to help fund the personnel and infrastructure required to support this activity. Also in FY 1999, US/OTP will evaluate the performance and impact of FY 1998 awards, conduct a second competition, and conduct outreach activities to help eligible states develop quality proposals and to disseminate best practices.
The Administration's fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget request to Congress includes $715 million for the Technology Administration's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an increase of $42 million over FY 1998 appropriations of $673 million.
The NIST FY 1999 budget request is divided into three appropriations:
U.S. industries are increasingly challenged by a larger number of sophisticated foreign competitors. Investments in the development and deployment of industrial technologies are vital to strengthen U.S. capabilities to compete successfully in the global marketplace. NIST's four interwoven programs—Measurement and Standards Laboratories, ATP, MEP, and the Baldrige National Quality Program—work together to support economic growth. The FY 1999 funding will accelerate the innovation process (and its resulting economic benefits) through a broad array of NIST programs from co-funding of economically important research and development, to basic measurement research, to technical assistance that helps smaller manufacturers adopt new manufacturing processes.
Specifically, the increases requested for FY 1999 will:
Background and Justification
As much as half of long-term economic growth stems from new and better use of technology. A key to the nation's economic success in the 21st century is tapping the flow of technological innovation and increasing both its speed and volume. When information and know-how flow freely and at lightning speed across international borders, the nation that marshals its resources most efficiently, that implements know-how the fastest and most effectively, will reap the reward of better products and services, a larger market share, and a higher standard of living.
In the United States, the private sector is unquestionably the primary creator and purveyor of new technology. Industry pays for about 63 percent of the estimated 1997 total U.S. R&D expenditure of $205 billion and is responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian R&D. But gaps in technical capabilities, expertise, information, and risk taking often slow progress and can even prevent innovation. NIST's mission is to help fill these gaps by partnering with industry to provide the United States with the technology, measurement, and standards support it needs to face global competition head on and win.
To ensure that NIST's programs are of the highest quality and designed to meet the nation's needs, they are evaluated regularly by a variety of experts. NIST has a permanent Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, industry and academic experts who review and assess annually NIST's overall programs and priorities. The National Research Council manages panels of industry, academic, and government experts who review and critique the programs of the NIST Laboratories. NIST also undertakes economic studies to measure the long-term impact of its laboratory research and services.
To assess MEP strategies and performance, a National Advisory Board of prominent representatives of industry, state and local governments, academia, economic development, and labor was established. To enhance program performance and contribute to the quality and reliability of performance metrics, ATP uses highly qualified academic and consulting economists and other experts in evaluation and planning to conduct surveys, case studies, and statistical and econometric analyses of ATP projects and their results.
With total requested appropriations of $715 million, NIST still represents a relatively small percentage of the federal government's R&D investment. The real value of NIST programs lies not in the total expenditure but in the benefits leveraged by these dollars. Each of the NIST programs is designed to produce broad, economic benefits that greatly exceed the program's direct costs. For example:
Building competitive advantages—and preventing disadvantages—in technology and trade ... speeding innovation and commercialization ... helping to improve the accuracy and reliability of clinical tests ... averting market inefficiencies that penalize consumers, companies, and the U.S. economy ... ensuring the accuracy and integrity of key elements of national security systems ... overcoming measurement obstacles to scientific progress... .
These and other practical objectives underlie the research and services of the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories. Since their inception in 1901 as the National Bureau of Standards, the NIST Laboratories have been the stewards of the nation's measurement infrastructure—a Constitutionally assigned federal responsibility to supply an essential, broadly useful, public economic good.
The NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories stand atop the nation's "measurement pyramid." They maintain, for example, more than 1,300 different Standard Reference Materials--equivalents of certified "rulers" that companies, government agencies, and others use to check the accuracy of their most exacting measurements. These materials broadly support the private-sector market in secondary reference materials used by businesses, laboratories, and other organizations to certify their measurements and assure the quality of their products. Similarly, the 9,000 calibrations performed by the Laboratories each year provide quality assurance for an even larger private-sector activity that disseminates transfer standards traceable to the national and international measurement systems.
The ultimate impact of NIST-supplied measurements is far greater than the volume of private-sector services that disseminate traceable reference standards. NIST-enabled measurement capabilities underpin industry performance in activities ranging from research to product design and from manufacturing to after-sales product support. For example, NIST's Standard Reference Databases provide evaluated, high-quality data that are used by many industries for applications such as improving the design of industrial processes, the quality of materials, and the performance of advanced information technology systems.
As global market competition becomes more technology intensive and as trade becomes a more significant determinant of the health of the U.S. economy, the nation's measurement infrastructure grows in economic importance and strategic value. Measurement- and standards-related issues will determine whether, for example, U.S. manufacturers of telecommunications equipment have fair access to international markets growing at an annual rate of about 20 percent--four times faster than the domestic market--or whether entry of U.S. exports will be obstructed by directives, standards, and other requirements crafted to the benefit of competitors. Advanced measurement capabilities supplied by NIST already are critical to U.S. industry's ability to efficiently develop, manufacture, and market high-quality products. Now, NIST's capabilities also are urgently needed to remove the technical barriers to trade that are being raised as tariff barriers are beginning to disappear. Export opportunities that are worth tens of billions of dollars and are the source of thousands of potential jobs are in jeopardy, according to the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee's 1996 National Export Strategy report.
Often working behind the scenes, the Measurement and Standards Laboratories supply tools and perform research that set the stage for advances in industrial performance, create opportunities for innovation, promote equity in trading relationships, and help clear the way for future economic growth.
Funding of the FY 1999 appropriation request for the Measurement and Standards Laboratories will support development of critical measurement technologies, methods, and data needed by the United States to improve continually the quality of products and enhance international competitiveness. For example, the NIST Laboratories plan to:
An FY 1999 increase of $2 million is requested for the Measurement and Standards Laboratories to enhance NIST's semiconductor measurement efforts in response to the National Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. As integrated circuits become more complicated and more compact, the measurement problems become an important factor limiting quality and performance. Failure to provide the needed measurement methods in time will affect seriously the continued success of the U.S. semiconductor industry. NIST will use increased funding to address three major areas of semiconductor metrology:
To improve the measurements and data underpinning the next generation of climate change technologies and contribute to the White House FY 1999 Initiative on Climate Change Technology, an increase of $7 million is requested. The United States currently leads the world in carbon output, almost entirely attributable to energy production and consumption, with nearly 23 percent of the world's emissions. Because the industrial sector accounts for the greatest proportion of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in this country, more effective emission reductions can be realized by targeting improvements in the next generation of supporting infrastructural technologies. To help reduce greenhouse emissions and produce more efficient industrial processes, NIST plans to:
NIST requests an increase of $3 million to develop and disseminate the measurements and standards for next-generation technologies to enable cost-effective disaster mitigation, response, and recovery for critical economic infrastructure systems. While the overriding goal of disaster mitigation is to minimize loss of life and injuries, the continuance and growth of communities also depend on roads and bridges, buildings, electric power, transportation, oil and gas delivery and storage, telecommunications, and water supply and sewage systems. With the goal of ultimately minimizing the costs of natural disasters to U.S. commerce, NIST efforts will focus on:
An increase of $4 million is requested to create a comprehensive approach to technical measurements and standards needed for international trade and to promote the global use of U.S. standards and measurements. Increasingly sophisticated measurements, conformity tests, standards, and reference materials and data are required for the sale of products in world markets. In some cases, these requirements have become barriers to trade for U.S. industry. For example, in 1996 the European Union introduced new requirements for electromagnetic compatibility. U.S. industry has found these requirements so difficult to comply with that several manufacturers have taken their products off the European market. The goals of this initiative will be to reduce barriers to exports by:
A reduction of $4.5 million in the FY 1999 proposal reflects elimination of the projects on wind engineering and non-destructive evaluation, which were not requested by the Administration and are of lower priority.
National Quality Program
NIST's FY 1999 budget also includes a request for $5.4 million to support the Baldrige National Quality Program. This is an increase of $2.4 million over the FY 1998 level.
The Baldrige National Quality Program has inspired thousands of U.S. companies to improve their products and services and expand their markets through performance excellence. Since 1993, NIST's quality program has strengthened ties to a growing array of state and local quality operations that mirror Baldrige quality management guidelines. In the process, NIST has established an emerging national quality network poised to better serve U.S. business of all sizes.
The education and healthcare sectors have expressed clear interest in establishing Baldrige quality awards for these communities, and NIST already has conducted a successful pilot program involving these sectors. Establishment by NIST of a quality award for the healthcare and education communities holds tremendous promise for improved delivery of services. The impetus for such expansion comes from the nation's need for performance excellence, both in healthcare and education, and from the business community because its competitiveness is related directly to the quality and costs of these services.
With the requested funding increase, the Baldrige National Quality Program will implement this expansion and increase greatly its impact by helping leading sectors of the U.S. economy to realize their full potential.
The Advanced Technology Program provides cost-shared funding to industry for high-risk research and development projects with the potential to spark important, broad-based economic benefits for the United States. The ATP accelerates, or in many cases enables, potentially important R&D projects that industry otherwise would not undertake, or would not devote significant resources to in a market-critical time frame, because of the technical risks involved. The awards are made on the basis of a rigorous competitive review considering the scientific and technical merit of each proposal and its potential benefits to the U.S. economy. The program does not fund product development. Applicants must include a detailed business plan for bringing the new technology to market once technical milestones have been achieved under ATP support. Of course, companies also bear the full responsibility for production, marketing, sales, and distribution.
The ATP is industry driven, which keeps the program grounded in real-world opportunities. Research priorities for the ATP are set by industry: for-profit companies conceive, propose, co-fund, and execute ATP projects and programs based on their understanding of the marketplace and research opportunities.
At the same time, ATP exists for the public good, not to enrich individual companies. ATP funds only those technologies that can lead to ripple effects throughout the economy. These enabling technologies, which often have applications in a number of industry sectors, allow products, services, or processes to be developed that otherwise would not have been possible. Some ATP projects have the potential to create whole classes of products with billion-dollar sales prospects and the high-wage jobs and returns to the economy that go with these prospects.
A December 1997 ATP study reveals important details on ATP's role in promoting innovative industrial R&D, including evidence that the program has stimulated and accelerated the pace of technology development, that the research is enabling significant technological breakthroughs rather than simple incremental advances, and that industry is actively pursuing commercialization of ATP-sponsored technologies.
The comprehensive study of more than 200 projects funded from 1993 to 1995 draws on data collected by the ATP's novel computer-assisted Business Reporting System, which gathers quarterly and annual data from individual companies participating in ATP projects. Significant findings in the study include:
To further strengthen the Advanced Technology Program, Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley announced in July 1997 a series of policy changes and initiatives in a report to Congress. They include: an increased emphasis on support for joint research projects involving a mix of companies, universities, and other organizations; a stronger emphasis on the program's support for small and mid-sized firms; and an increase in the cost-share requirements for large company single applicants participating in the program. The changes also should bring closer ties with state-run technology programs and strengthen linkages with the venture capital community to ensure that ATP will not fund projects that could be funded privately. The changes are the result of a study of the ATP initiated by Secretary Daley in March 1997. Conducted by the Technology Administration, the study solicited comments on the program from approximately 3,500 interested parties and the broader public.
To date the ATP has funded 352 projects with 842 participants, representing an investment in advanced technology development of $2.3 billion shared almost equally by industry and ATP.
ATP connects many different partners, including companies with companies, companies with universities—more than 100 universities are involved in ATP projects—and companies with federal and other non-profit research laboratories.
These collaborations have produced increases in research productivity and synergies from partners with different expertise that would be difficult to accomplish without the overarching sponsorship of the ATP. Such joint ventures also allow companies of all sizes to conduct high-risk research that would be financially impossible if they had to go it alone. More than half of ATP awards have gone to small companies or to joint ventures led by a small company. Even companies with large research and development departments have difficulty supporting the long-term, high-risk, generic research typical of ATP projects because the benefits of the work often extend across whole industries.
NIST coordinates effectively with other federal agencies involved in technology development to ensure that the ATP does not duplicate their efforts. ATP has close working relationships with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and others.
ATP currently has under way the 1998 general competition (open to proposals from all areas of technology) and eight focused program competitions covering three existing ATP program areas—Catalysis and Biocatalysis Technology, Digital Video in Information Networks, and Tools for DNA Diagnostics—and several new programs, including Microelectronics Manufacturing Infrastructure, Selective-Membrane Platforms, Photonics Manufacturing, Premium Power, and Adaptive Learning Systems. ATP announced that it would have approximately $82 million available in FY 1998 for first-year funding of new projects. Under the new ATP rules, large companies or their subsidiaries competing for an ATP award as a single company must provide cost-share funding of at least 60 percent of total project costs for each calendar quarter of the project. For purposes of these competitions, a large company is one that has $2.578 billion in annual corporate revenues.
The proposed increase of $67.4 million above the FY 1998 level of $192.5 million is necessary to continue ongoing projects while permitting ATP to carry out a general competition and several additional focused program competitions. The program already has, and continues to receive, a number of good ideas from industry for new focused competitions.
A true federal-state partnership, the MEP network of locally staffed and operated technical assistance centers is paying dividends to local economies and to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. The MEP has grown from a promising, small pilot program operating in seven states and accessible to only 5 percent of the nation's smaller manufacturers to a coherent nation-wide system that has placed sorely needed extension services within reach of manufacturers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
MEP services are improving the competitiveness of a key segment of the economy—smaller manufacturers. Smaller plants and factories account for almost two-thirds of all manufacturing jobs, employing about 12 million people at wages averaging substantially higher than in the retail sector. Typically employing fewer than 50 people, these firms have generated about three-fourths of new manufacturing jobs created over the last two decades. Within the manufacturing sector, smaller factories occupy a critical tier. They supply parts and equipment that now account for 55 percent of the value-added content of finished products. Yet, productivity among smaller manufacturers is growing at half the rate of larger companies, according to the Census Bureau. These larger manufacturers, in turn, are imposing ever higher demands for quality, efficiency, and cost control on their smaller suppliers.
Typical MEP services include helping smaller manufacturers to access information on new equipment such as automation systems, to find high-quality consultant advice for optimizing manufacturing systems, to reduce costs by lowering waste and reducing the environmental impact of their operations, to improve quality and expand markets for products, and to find financing for modernization efforts. Such services help smaller manufacturers overcome the inherent isolation and lack of coverage for every needed type of expertise that comes from limited funding within a small organization.
NIST's MEP funding helps to ensure that the infrastructure exists so smaller manufacturers can get the help they need when faced with complex choices. It provides a measure of stability in the inherently volatile world of small business by providing smaller companies with some of the same resources available to larger corporations. It greatly expands a small company's access to knowledge about new technologies and reduces isolation by hooking them into a nationwide set of experts available through electronic mail, the World Wide Web, and other national networks.
By providing a shared, distributed pool of resources, tools, and techniques to integrate its regional affiliates—representing about 3,000 organizations—into a nationwide network, MEP works to expand and leverage their capabilities, minimize duplication of efforts, and foster collective learning. Specific activities support the training and development needs of field agents and other center staff, help centers improve their capabilities to respond to broad areas of concern such as how to deal with environmental regulations cost effectively or how to improve workforce skills, and respond to inadequately addressed or future manufacturer needs. MEP also disseminates uniform evaluation metrics and oversees all legislatively mandated program evaluations.
Now that extension services are available to smaller manufacturers nationwide, MEP is focusing on optimizing system and center performance and ensuring that these manufacturing firms are aware of the services available to them as they upgrade their equipment, processes, and practices to improve capabilities, performance, and prospects for growth. It also will continue to conduct annual, tri-annual, and reapplication reviews and to renew agreements with centers.
In FY 1999, NIST requests $106.8 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a decrease of $7.8 million. This decrease reflects a lower federal share of the centers' operating costs since the federal share changes as the centers mature. In the first three years, the federal share is 50 percent; in year four, 40 percent. In years five and six and for renewals, the federal share is one-third. The number of centers is not expected to change.
In fiscal year 1998, Congress provided $95 million for construction, renovation, and maintenance of NIST facilities, with the release of $78 million contingent upon submission of a spending plan. NIST is completing such a plan that will correspond to NIST's long-term facilities master plan. The requested plan is expected to be submitted to Congress in February.
NIST maintains about 50 specialized laboratory, office, and support buildings on two campuses in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo. The great majority of these buildings are 30 to 45 years old and are deteriorating at an accelerating rate. NIST's master facilities plan is designed to guide the replacement, renovation, or repair of the Institute's buildings so that NIST can continue to provide U.S. industry and science with the best possible measurement system.
The plan presents an orderly, cost-effective approach that:
The plan is based on extensive independent assessments of NIST's technical laboratory needs and the present value and life-cycle costs of various alternatives for meeting them.
A top priority is construction of a new Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML), which will house NIST's most advanced metrology, physics, chemistry, electronics, engineering, and materials research projects that have critical needs for state-of-the-art environmental controls. The FY 1998 congressional appropriation provided funding that would permit NIST to move ahead with plans for the AML pending congressional review of NIST's facilities improvement and spending plan. However, legislative language providing advanced appropriations is required to enable NIST to start construction before full funding is available. To complete the AML, $40 million will be needed in FY 1999, FY 2000, and FY 2001; $35 million will be required in FY 2002.
NIST has identified more than $400 million in facilities maintenance and capacity projects requiring major retrofitting. With the remaining $32 million in FY 1998, NIST will undertake the highest priority safety, capacity, maintenance, and major repair projects to ensure compliance with various federal, state, and local health and safety regulations and to provide modifications needed to improve access for people with disabilities. The Institute also will replace the emissions control system in the Fire Research Building. In FY 1999, NIST is requesting $16.7 million for safety, capacity, and maintenance projects as well as major repairs such as asbestos abatement, site-wide fire alarm upgrades, and building modifications to improve access for the disabled.
Measurement and Standards Laboratories
NIST physicist William D. Phillips, a leading researcher in ultra-low-temperature atomic physics, was a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics. He shared the award with Steven Chu of Stanford University and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Collège de France and École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France. The trio was recognized for work they did independently on the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
NIST research on alternative refrigerants has proved to be a high-payoff federal investment. According to a recent economic assessment, it yielded a social rate of return of 433 percent, the result of cost savings by firms as they scrambled to meet the international deadline for phasing out ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. For a sample of 11 firms, NIST expenditures of about $2.7 million translated into savings totaling about $14.2 million. Timely delivery of reliable data on alternative refrigerants made the search for CFC replacements more efficient, the study found.
NIST and the NIST-sponsored National Conference of Weights and Measures played pivotal roles in a study that found "widespread problems with short-filling of milk, juice, and other dairy products." Just over 40 percent of the 1,638 inspection lots failed due to underfilling. Shortages averaged from 1 to 6 percent or greater. The aggregate shortage represents a substantial loss to consumers, while harming dairy industry competition. To help the dairy industry rectify the problem, NIST is training industry representatives on how to prevent short-filling of containers.
A new measurement tool has the potential to leapfrog several generations of metrology needs forecast by U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, enabling the industry to continue its relentless pursuit of ever faster and ever more powerful microchips. Developed by NIST and partners from SEMATECH and Sandia National Laboratories, the reference material is proposed as a tool for calibrating equipment that measures integrated-circuit features as tiny as 0.1 micrometer, or about a thousandth of the width of a human hair. Current state-of-the-art commercial chips contain features approaching 0.25 micrometer.
Furthering its mission of meeting the infrastructural technology needs of U.S. industry, NIST initiated five new industrial consortia in 1997. The partnerships will address measurement, standards, and data issues in areas ranging from machine-tool performance modeling to ceramic processing and from the optical properties of materials to brachytherapy manufacturing technology. In all, more than 60 companies, universities, and other organizations were participants in these newly begun collaborations. At the end of 1997, NIST was coordinating and contributing to the technical efforts of nearly 20 consortia.
Advanced Technology Program
An economic study, prepared by CONSAD Research Corp., projects a possible impact on the U.S. economy by the year 2000 of more than $3 billion due to quality improvements enabled by the ATP 2-Millimeter Project, begun in 1992. A consortium of eight small and mid-sized companies, together with the University of Michigan, Chrysler Motors Corp., General Motors Corp., and Wayne State University, co-funded and developed technologies to allow U.S. auto manufacturers to routinely control the fit of auto body components to world-class levels, decreasing production and maintenance costs, improving product quality, and reducing time to launch new models. Within the next four years, benefits are expected to exceed project costs many times over.
Bridges that last. That could be one of the legacies of an ATP project that is pushing the materials science and engineering envelope to develop bridge beams and other structural members that are made with composites—hybrids of two or more materials. The Strongwell Corp., Bristol, Va., has manufactured prototype bridge beams made of glass and carbon fibers bound by a resin. With the Georgia Institute of Technology, the company is working to optimize the properties of the composites (to resist rust and corrosion, for example) as well as the structural components made with them. Attracting interest from transportation officials around the country, Strongwell supplied 24 test beams that recently were installed in a vehicular bridge in Blacksburg, Va. Long-term tests will indicate whether the materials can deliver on all of their anticipated advantages.
Manufacturing Extension Partnership
A comprehensive evaluation of manufacturing and business operations has helped A&R Tarpaulins, a 17-person company in Fontana, Calif., clear a path for sales growth and cost reduction. Following recommendations made by the California Manufacturing Technology Center—an affiliate of the MEP network—the minority-owned business instituted new inventory-control measures, standardized estimating procedures, formalized its business planning, and undertook other improvements. The manufacturer of truck cover systems and industrial fabrics credits these changes with helping it to increase sales by two-thirds, or about $600,000, and to cut its inventory costs in half. To accommodate continued growth, A&R has added seven new employees to its payroll.
Obsolete facilities, tangled material flows, and other factors contributed to lengthening manufacturing cycles that threatened future business for the Kerotest Manufacturing Corp., an employee-owned, Pittsburgh-based maker of industrial valves. With technical advice and other assistance from an MEP affiliate—the Southwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center—the 125-employee company undertook a major modernization program that included building a new plant and replacing antiquated equipment. SPIRC provided a low-interest, $150,000 loan to help the 90-year-old company purchase new machinery, and SPIRC consultants conducted a detailed review to identify steps to reduce cycle times and waste. Since moving into its new facility in 1995, Kerotest has trimmed its manufacturing cycles from weeks to two or three days.
Baron Industries, a Dalton, Ga., manufacturer of glass range tops, has reaped the benefits of following sound technical and business advice provided by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Alliance. The MEP affiliate assisted Baron in revising its plant layout and recommended ways to improve work processes. As a result, Baron saved more than $800,000 in inventory, overtime pay, equipment, and materials; increased labor productivity by 40 percent; reduced the internal scrap rate from 80 percent to 10 percent; and added 16 new jobs.
National Quality Program
Solectron Corp., an electronics design and manufacturing services firm based in Milpitas, Calif., credits its quality program with helping it to achieve a compound annual sales growth rate of 47 percent since 1992. Commitment to excellence also earned the rapidly expanding company its second Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1997, making it the first repeat winner in the 10-year-old program. Contract spending by Solectron's 11 key, long-term customers increased 600 percent between 1992 and 1996, a solid indicator of high customer satisfaction. The company has designed a "new site start-up process" based on the Baldrige Award criteria, ensuring that new facilities are aligned tightly with regional customers' requirements and expectations.
The 3M Dental Products Division, also a 1997 quality award winner, is realizing the benefits of continuous improvement in nearly all facets of its business. Over the last 10 years, the division has doubled global sales and market share, and, from 1991 to 1996, it doubled its rate of profit. Overall satisfaction of the division's U.S. distributors establishes 3M DPD as the industry leader. Careful reading of customer requirements drives a finely tuned innovation process. Products introduced within the last five years now account for 45 percent of total annual sales, up from 12 percent in 1992.
|FY 1997 Approp.||FY 1998 Approp.||FY 1999 Request|
|Scientific & Technical Research & Services (STRS)|
|Measurement and Standards Laboratories||265,020||268,871a||286,266|
|Baldrige National Quality Program||2,980||2,981||5,370|
|Industrial Technology Services (ITS)|
|Advanced Technology Program||218,000b||192,500||259,891|
|Manufacturing Extension Partnership||95,000||113,500||106,800|
|Construction of Research Facilities (CRF)|
|Construction and Major Renovations||(16,000)c||63,000||40,000|
|Modifications and Improvements||0||32,000||16,714|
|Total TA Appropriations||$574,500||$681,352||$725,034|
aReflects the cancellation of $5M in discretionary budget authority, No. 97-82.
bReflects a $7 million rescission called for in P.L.105-18.
cPursuant to P.L. 104-208, $16M is rescinded from prior year balances.
dNTIS is historically a self-supporting agency.