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October 2011 VCAT Meeting Minutes





Visiting Committee Members Attending

Cerf, Vinton
Chowdry, Uma
Fleury, Paul
Haymet, Tony
Kerr, Karen
Kheradpir, Shaygan
Khosla, Pradeep
Padovani, Roberto
Taub, Alan*

VCAT Exec. Dir.
Ehrlich, Gail

NIST Leadership Board

Boehm, Jason
Brockett, Del
Cavanagh, Richard
Celotta, Robert 
Dimeo, Robert
Fiotes, Stella
Furlani, Cita
Gallagher, Patrick
Gebbie, Katharine
Hertz, Harry
Kayser, Rich
Kimball, Kevin
Porch, Susanne
Porter, Gail
Robinson, David
Schufreider, Jim
Sienkiewicz, Robert
Singerman, Phillip
Sunder, Shyam

NIST Staff

Acierto, Linda
Arnold, George
Balicao, Francisco
Baras, John
Belford-Gemar, Diane
Boisvert, Ron
Cherny, Paul
Chin, Joannie
Cypher, David
Dodson, Donna
Dohne, Kirk
Donmez, Alkan
Eustis, Allan
Evans, Heather
Frechette, Simon
Gayle, Frank
Gorman, Jason
Greer, Chris
Gupte, Prasad
Harary, Howard
Herman, Michael
Ivester, Rob
Janezic, Michael
Jones, Al 
Kauffman, Leah
Lambis, Barbara
Liddle, James
Lightman, Suzanne
Locascio, Laurie
Marquis, Anne-Louise
Messina, Elena
Migler, Kalman
Molnar, Michael
Montgomery, Doug
Nam, Sae Woo
Orr, Dereck
Postek, Michael
Proctor, Fred
Romine, Charles
Satyandra, Gupta
Scholl, Matthew
Seiler, David
Shaw, Stephanie 
Shneier, Michael
Sriram, Ram
St. Pierre, Jim

NIST Staff Cont.

Steel, Eric
Stolorow, Mark
Walsh, Michael
Watters, Bob 
Wavering, Albert
Whetstone, James


Bratcher, Jeff- NTIA

Doering, Robert-Texas Instruments

Harrison, Gina- NTIA

Heaps, Joe-U.S. Department of Justice

Luu, Cuong-DHS/S&T

Mayfield, Harry-Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Government Relations

Pentz, Alan-Corner Alliance Consulting

Philbrick, Mark- AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, DOE

Reynolds, Corey-Corner Alliance Consulting

Saraydar, Cem*- General Motors

Smyth, Susan*- General Motors

Zimmer, Stephen- USCAR

*Participated by Webinar.

Call to Order, Agenda Review, Upcoming VCAT Elections, and Other Announcements – Dr. Vinton Cerf, VCAT Chair

Dr. Cerf called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m., pointed out the location of the emergency exits, and reviewed the meeting logistics and agenda.  He also announced that the new VCAT Chair and Vice Chair will be elected at the February 8, 2012, VCAT meeting for a two-year term beginning April 1, 1012, and described the election process.  

Update on Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Request for Information – Mr. Molnar, Chief Manufacturing Officer, NIST

Presentation Summary – Mr. Molnar provided a preliminary analysis of the responses to the NIST Request for Information (RFI) to 23 questions involving the design and structure of the proposed Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) program.  The RFI deadline was extended to October 20, 2011.  To date, NIST received 38 responses from a diverse set of interests including consortia, small businesses, large and medium size companies, non-profit organizations, trade associations, institutes of higher education, and individuals. 

Mr. Molnar summarized the responses to four of the questions related to the most effective management models for public private partnerships. These questions focused on the 1) leads and structure for industry-led consortia; 2) best practices for facilitating knowledge and transfer; 3) ways to facilitate small business involvement; and 4) lessons learned from other successful and unsuccessful industry-led consortia.  The responses addressing lessons learned were grouped into nine different buckets which covered the selection process, focus, funding, cost share requirements, intellectual property issues, participants, management, operations, and examples of successful industry-led consortia, such as SEMATECH and the Semiconductor Research Corporation. Most of the responses advocated industry-led consortia and the need for structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. There was also consensus on the importance of communications with regard to technology transfer as well as the need for cross-industry participation.  Most respondents agreed that small business involvement should be a requirement and incentives should be provided for their participation. 

For more details about the RFI responses, see Mr. Molnar's presentation.

VCAT Manufacturing Subcommittee Recommendations on Design Principles for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia – Dr. Alan Taub, Subcommittee Chair, VCAT

Presentation Summary – In his opening remarks, Dr. Taub indicated that there was general consensus among the VCAT that industry-led consortia is the appropriate driver to help U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and that  NIST should be the lead government agency for this effort.  Dr. Taub summarized the VCAT Manufacturing Subcommitee's recommendations on the Design Principles for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech).  These principles and recommendations address the most effective management models for public-private partnerships, specifically AMTech, and how to ensure participation of small firms; the appropriate evaluation criteria for the overall program, for selecting awardees, and for measuring the performance of the awarded teams; the enabling technologies that can make U.S. manufacturers more competitive globally; and other key challenges that the designers and implementers of the AMTech should be aware of. 

Among its many recommendations, the Subcommittee proposed that AMTech be managed through consortia, led by industry, that include broad participation by universities and government agencies.  The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative is a good model for a public-private partnership.  Dr. Taub also emphasized the need to include small manufacturers in public private partnerships and reviewed ways to ensure their participation.  The next task for the Subcommittee is to examine the role of the NIST labs in manufacturing. 

For more details on the Subcommittee's recommendations, see Dr. Taub's presentation.

Discussion – The group discussed the following topics:

  • The justification for recommending the creation of specific industry consortia with technology platforms versus cross-industry technology platforms which are harder to manage and keep focused. 
  • Effectiveness of U.S. models of successful public-private partnerships in the semiconductor and automotive industries compared to their international counterparts.
  • The recommended criteria for the selection of enabling technologies that make U.S. manufacturers more competitive globally are not prescriptive in regards to offshore manufacturing.
  • The recommendations should address the need for guiding principles for the management of intellectual property rights within the consortia.


NIST Director's Update – Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director

Presentation Summary – Dr. Gallagher summarized recent leadership changes at the Department of Commerce (DOC) and NIST; a recent report by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Standards; the budget environment; the 24th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM); and recognition of 2011 Nobel Laureate Dr. Dan Shechtman and of Dr. John Cahn, recipient of the 2011 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology.

With regard to leadership changes, John Bryson has been nominated as the new Secretary of Commerce and his interests align naturally with the NIST mission.  Terry Garcia's nomination as the Deputy Secretary of Commerce was recently withdrawn.  The Acting Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, has been very effective in this role and is an ally to NIST.  Recent leadership changes within NIST include Willie May as the new Associate Director for Laboratory Programs, who served formerly as the.  director of the Materials Measurement Laboratory; Mike Molnar, the new Chief Manufacturing Officer; George Jenkins, the new Chief Financial Officer; Rich Cavanaugh, the acting director of the Materials Measurement Laboratory; Mary Saunders, Standards Coordination Office Director; and Suzanne Porch, Acting Director of the Office of Workforce Management. 

As an introduction to his update on standards policy, Dr. Gallagher noted that the VCAT was very involved in positioning NIST as the natural convener and coordinator of federal agencies in standards-setting. Dr. Gallagher serves as the single co-chair of the NSTC Subcommittee on Standards which released a report in October 2011 on the Federal Engagement in Standards Activities to Address National Priorities. This report, which was based on a Request for Information (RFI) issued by NIST on this topic as well as an analysis of cases studies, provides an overview of current legal and policy frameworks for government engagement in private sector standardization and conformity-assessment activities. It also summarizes stakeholder observations in response to the RFI and outlines policy recommendations to supplement existing guidance to agencies.  The report is available on the NIST website at

Turning to the budget, Dr. Gallagher provided an overview of the Budget Control Act aimed at a $2.5 trillion deficit reduction over ten years and described its potential impact on NIST.  He remarked that this Act is really about the size of government and there has been almost no discussion about underlying priorities.  While reviewing the history of NIST budget trends from FY 2006 and FY 2012, Dr. Gallagher described the divergent planning horizon as a result of different funding scenarios in the President's request versus anticipated Congressional action prior to the Budget Control Act which sets a cap on the appropriations committees.  There is still uncertainty if funding for the FY 2102 budget will be in the form of a Continuing Resolution, an Omnibus Bill, or an appropriation. Dr. Gallagher also reviewed NIST's enacted budget levels by program for FY 2010-FY 2011 and the FY 2012 President's budget request and House and Senate marks. He stressed the importance of continuing the renovations to the Boulder buildings with reduced funding.  Both the House and Senate marks provide basically flat funding for the NIST laboratories, eliminate funds for the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) and the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program (BPEP), and provide no funding for the proposed AMTech program.  There is about an $8 million difference between the two marks for funding the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.  In summary, the FY 2012 marks reduce the NIST budget from FY 2010 by about $170 million with significant program impacts.  

Dr. Gallagher will be leaving for Paris in the evening to attend the CGPM as the head of the U.S. delegation.  The CPGM meets every four years to discuss and examine issues related to the propagation and improvement of the International System of Units (SI), including new fundamental metrologies.  Efforts are underway to switch from an artifact-based definition of the kilogram to one based on a fundamental constant.  Dr. Gallagher provided some history about the kilogram, described the two different approaches in progress at NIST, and invited the VCAT members to tour the electronic kilogram facility at NIST.  

Dr. Frank Gayle, Chief of the Metallurgy Division at NIST, described the award winning research of Dr. John Cahn, recipient of the 2011 Kyoto Prize for fundamental contributions to materials science, and Dr. Dan Shechtman, the 2011 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.  Both of these awards recognize the research performed in the NIST Metallurgy Division.  Dr. Gayle noted that Dr. Cahn joined the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in 1977 and is widely regarded as probably the greatest thermodynamics of materials person in the last 100 years.  Dr. Shechtman was working as a guest researcher at NIST (then known as the NBS) in 1982 when he made his astonishing discovery of a quasicrystal. Dr. Cahn was one of the co-authors of the journal article that reported the discovery. 

For more details, see Dr. Gallagher's presentation.

Discussion – The group discussed the following topics:
NIST's proposed budget reduction in FY 2012 is relatively large compared to other agencies. 

  • Reprogramming requests are required to transfer funds between separate program line items depending on the amounts.
    Under the Budget Control Act, the Bipartisan Supercommittee's activities and sequestration step will result in further reductions in FY 2013. 
  • To address the reduced staffing levels proposed in the FY 2012 budget, NIST instituted an agency-wide hiring freeze and early retirement and buyout authority for TIP, and is exploring transitioning the federal funding for BPEP to the Baldrige Foundation.
  • Since the loss of TIP and BPEP funding also reduces the amount of funds available to cover some of NIST uncontrollable costs, such as utilities, NIST is also looking strategically into some aggressive costs controls.
  • NIST is also exploring opportunities to place staff from TIP and BPEP in other bureaus of DOC.
  • The strategy for addressing the reductions include having the NIST laboratories develop program priorities at various funding levels instead of across the board cuts.
  • Since NIST is supply-limited rather than demand-limited, criteria is needed to protect its core programs.
  • NIST's construction plans include completion of the NIST Center for Neutron Research, a stretched out timeframe for the build-renovate decision for the Boulder laboratory, and a review of renovation needs in the general purpose laboratories at Gaithersburg.   
  • The amount of funding from other agencies is the biggest uncertainty facing the NIST laboratories.  
  • The fate of the projected funds from the public spectrum auction is still unknown.
  • The VCAT will send letters of acknowledgement to Dr. Cahn and Dr. Shechtman.  Dr. Cahn will be presenting the second rendition of his Kyoto Prize talk at San Diego State University on March 21, 2012.

Report on Public Safety Networks Subcommittee Recommendations for the Desirable Attributes of Public Safety Networks--Dr. Vinton Cerf, Subcommittee Chair, VCAT

Presentation Summary – Dr. Cerf summarized the observations and recommendations of the VCAT Subcommittee on Public Safety Networks (PSN) which are still draft.  An updated version will be provided to the VCAT later in the afternoon for further input.  Five public meetings on the subject of Public Safety Networks were held between June 7, 2011 and October 19, 2011.

The Subcommittee's observations cover the broad scope of the public safety community and its distinction from National Security; the need for modern communications; the importance of resilience, robustness, and recovery; issues related to security, authentication, and access control; cost; interoperation with commercial systems; the role of 911 and other on-line systems; frequency allocations; and the need for wired communications.  Recommendations for the desirable features of public safety networks address the importance of a flexible system architecture; backward compatibility; mesh networking; robustness and recovery; security and authentication; standards; ruggedization; sensor and location systems; and high density radio operations. Since standards are absolutely critical to the success in designing the network, a Public Safety Interoperability Panel, similar to the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, could be established with the responsibility to facilitate the development and implementation of the needed standards.  

Prototyping, collaboration, and testing will be needed to develop a new set of concepts, standards, and architectures for public safety use.  The NIST Boulder laboratories have facilities to support these activities as well as other places. Dr. Cerf also noted the diverse set of multiple public safety stakeholders and emphasized the importance of their participation in the development and use of public safety networks. Another programmatic consideration is a proposal to create a private or quasi-public entity for the development of the National Public Safety System with the responsibility for executing the development and implementation of this new capability.  Dr. Cerf provided examples of areas for Research and Development and highlighted the importance of certification.  Lastly, Dr. Cerf noted the existing National Incident Management System and questioned its role in the design of the PSN.     

For more details on the Subcommittee's recommendations, see Dr. Cerf's presentation.

Discussion – The group discussed the following topics:


  • An alternative for over provisioning is to take advantage of pre-existing systems; however, commercially available systems may not be workable in a serious crisis. Standards will be helpful.
  • International participation in the development of the PSN raises the issue of deciding on acceptable standards.
  • The anticipated $300 million would fund the PSN prototyping activities rather than building and implementing the system.



Concurrent VCAT Subcommittee Meetings


The VCAT Subcommittee on Manufacturing received presentations on advanced manufacturing activities at NIST followed by a discussion session.  This subcommittee also updated their recommendations on the design principles for AMTech. 

The VCAT Subcommittee on Public Safety Networks continued information gathering for their draft recommendations for the Desirable Properties of a National Public Safety Network.  Briefings were also provided as input on their recommendations for the optimal programmatic structure for the NIST Public Safety Communications Program. 

Tour of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology NanoFab – Dr. Robert Celotta, Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, NIST

The VCAT members visited the NanoFab, part of NIST's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), which provides its users with state-of-the-art equipment, expert training, and a high level of flexibility. The CNST NanoFab has successfully supported advanced research projects in polymers, biology, nanoelectromechanical systems, ceramics, radiation physics, atomic physics, optics, and more. It also provides access to a wide variety of measurement and characterization tools, technologies, and expertise to NIST and its partners.

Other Issues for 2011 VCAT Annual Report – Dr. Vinton Cerf, VCAT Chair

Presentation Summary – Dr. Cerf provided examples of topics for consideration in the VCAT's 2011 Annual Report.  These topics include the successful restructuring of NIST; the convening authority of NIST in standards activities; references to the VCAT reports and activities related to NIST roles in Advanced Manufacturing and in the Public Safety Network; budget impacts; and the notion of NIST being supply-limited. 

For more details on the report topics, see Dr. Cerf's presentation.

Discussion – The group discussed the following topics:


  • The VCAT Annual Report is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of the Committee's activities over the past year; instead, it should highlight a few issues with recommendations.  As mandated by statute, the VCAT is required to provide an annual report to the Secretary for transmittal to Congress and it must include comments on NIST's three year programmatic plan. 
  • The report should also include unintended consequences to NIST due to budget cuts in other agencies.
  • The February 2012 VCAT meeting will be held in Washington, DC, so that it is convenient for the Committee to meet with the Secretary of Commerce.



Plans for Release of Recommendations for the National Public Safety Network and AMTech – Dr. Vinton Cerf, Subcommittee Chair, VCAT, and Dr. Alan Taub, Subcommittee Chair, VCAT

Presentation Summaries:   Dr. Cerf requested permission for the next version of the PSN report to be released for public comment. 

Dr. Taub summarized additional points for the AMTech report and the VCAT Annual Report based on comments from other VCAT members and the recent Subcommittee meeting.  The AMTech report should also highlight the strong endorsement of the AMTech program; the importance of the quality of the proposal; synergy with the NIST laboratories is not a requirement; and the NIST development of principles for Intellectual Property Rights management.  The VCAT Annual report should include several high level comments about NIST's laboratory portfolio in advanced manufacturing. These comments include the Subcommittee's endorsement of the NIST laboratory research programs that will lead to enabling capabilities in advanced manufacturing across sectors; the importance of continued growth in the NIST laboratories to better position the agency to advance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness; the continued development of a deeper strategic plan in areas of importance to the Nation's manufacturing competitiveness; and the endorsement of NIST playing a strong role in the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. 

For more details, see Dr. Taub's presentation.

Discussion – The group discussed the following topics:



  • The Committee agreed that concurrence is required by every VCAT member on each of the draft Subcommittee reports before they are issued by the full Committee as separate documents.
  • The subcommittee process for addressing two hot topics simultaneously was beneficial in that it allowed additional work to occur between VCAT meetings and enabled outside expert advice.  Some members missed participating in both subcommittees; however, progress reports at the VCAT meetings were helpful.  
  • The BPEP has a long tradition of supporting manufacturing firms through its award program and criteria.


The meeting was adjourned at noon on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.

Gail Ehrlich, Executive Director, NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology

Dr. Vinton Cerf, Chair, NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology

Created January 27, 2012, Updated September 9, 2021