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MEP Statute and Regulations

TITLE V—MANUFACTURING

Read the NIST MEP Rule

SEC. 501. HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP IMPROVEMENTS.

(a) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the ‘‘Manufacturing Extension Partnership Improvement Act’’.

(b) IN GENERAL.—Section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k) is amended to read as follows:

SEC. 25. HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP.

(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

(1) APPROPRIATE COMMITTEES OF CONGRESS.—The term ‘appropriate committees of Congress’ means—

(A) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives.

(2) AREA CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION SCHOOL.—The term ‘area career and technical education school’ has the meaning given the term in section 3 of the Vocational Education Act of 1963 (20 U.S.C. 2302).

(3) CENTER.—The term ‘Center’ means a manufacturing extension center that—

(A) is created under subsection (b); and

(B) is affiliated with an eligible entity that applies for and is awarded financial support under subsection (e).

(4) COMMUNITY COLLEGE.—The term ‘community college’ means an institution of higher education (as defined under section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a))) at which the highest degree that is predominately awarded to students is an associate’s degree.

(5) ELIGIBLE ENTITY.—The term ‘eligible entity’ means a United States-based nonprofit institution, or consortium thereof, an institution of higher education, or a State, United States territory, local, or tribal government.

(6) HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP OR PROGRAM.—The term ‘Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership’ or ‘Program’ means the program established under subsection (b).

(7) MEP ADVISORY BOARD.—The term ‘MEP Advisory Board’ means the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board established under subsection (n).

(b) ESTABLISHMENT AND PURPOSE.—The Secretary, acting through the Director and, if appropriate, through other Federal officials, shall establish a program to provide assistance for the creation and support of manufacturing extension centers for the transfer of manufacturing technology and best business practices.

(c) OBJECTIVE.—The objective of the Program shall be to enhance competitiveness, productivity, and technological performance in United States manufacturing through—

(1) the transfer of manufacturing technology and techniques developed at the Institute to Centers and, through them, to manufacturing companies throughout the United States;

(2) the participation of individuals from industry, institutions of higher education, State governments, other Federal agencies, and, when appropriate, the Institute in cooperative technology transfer activities;

(3) efforts to make new manufacturing technology and processes usable by United States-based small and medium-sized companies;

(4) the active dissemination of scientific, engineering, technical, and management information about manufacturing to industrial firms, including small and medium-sized manufacturing companies;

(5) the utilization, when appropriate, of the expertise and capability that exists in Federal agencies, other than the Institute, and federally-sponsored laboratories;

(6) the provision to community colleges and area career and technical education schools of information about the job skills needed in manufacturing companies, including small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the regions they serve;

(7) the promotion and expansion of certification systems offered through industry, associations, and local colleges when appropriate, including efforts such as facilitating training, supporting new or existing apprenticeships, and providing access to information and experts, to address workforce needs and skills gaps in order to assist small- and medium sized manufacturing businesses; and

(8) the growth in employment and wages at United States-based small and medium-sized companies.

(d) ACTIVITIES.—The activities of a Center shall include—

(1) the establishment of automated manufacturing systems and other advanced production technologies, based on Institute-supported research, for the purpose of demonstrations and technology transfer;

(2) the active transfer and dissemination of research findings and Center expertise to a wide range of companies and enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers; and

(3) the facilitation of collaborations and partnerships between small and medium-sized manufacturing companies, community colleges, and area career and technical education schools, to help those entities better understand the specific needs of manufacturers and to help manufacturers better understand the skill sets that students learn in the programs offered by such colleges and schools.

(e) FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.—

(1) AUTHORIZATION.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary may provide financial assistance for the creation and support of a Center through a cooperative agreement with an eligible entity.

(2) COST SHARING.—The Secretary may not provide more than 50 percent of the capital and annual operating and maintenance funds required to establish and support a Center.

(3) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—For purposes of paragraph (2), any amount received by an eligible entity for a Center under a provision of law other than paragraph (1) shall not be considered an amount provided under paragraph (1).

(4) REGULATIONS.—The Secretary may revise or promulgate such regulations as necessary to carry out this subsection.

(f) APPLICATIONS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—An eligible entity shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.

(2) PROGRAM DESCRIPTION.—The Secretary shall establish and update, as necessary—

(A) a description of the Program;

(B) the application procedures;

(C) performance metrics;

(D) criteria for determining qualified applicants; and

(E) criteria for choosing recipients of financial assistance from among the qualified applicants.

(F) procedures for determining allowable cost share contributions; and

(G) such other program policy objectives and operational procedures as the Secretary considers necessary.

(3) COST SHARING.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—To be considered for financial assistance under this section, an applicant shall provide adequate assurances that the applicant and if applicable, the applicant’s partnering organizations, will obtain funding for not less than 50 percent of the capital and annual operating and maintenance funds required to establish and support the Center from sources other than the financial assistance provided under subsection (e).

(B) AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER ENTITIES.—In meeting the cost-sharing requirement under subparagraph (A), an eligible entity may enter into an agreement with 1 or more other entities, such as a private industry, institutions of higher education, or a State, United States territory, local, or tribal government for the contribution by that other entity of funding if the Secretary determines the agreement—

(i) is programmatically reasonable;
(ii) will help accomplish programmatic objectives; and
(iii) is allocable under Program procedures under subsection (f)(2).

(4) LEGAL RIGHTS.—Each applicant shall include in the application a proposal for the allocation of the legal rights associated with any intellectual property which may result from the activities of the Center.

(5) MERIT REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall subject each application to merit review.

(B) CONSIDERATIONS.—In making a decision whether to approve an application and provide financial assistance under subsection (e), the Secretary shall consider, at a minimum—

(i) the merits of the application, particularly those portions of the application regarding technology transfer, training and education, and adaptation of manufacturing technologies to the needs of particular industrial sectors;
(ii) the quality of service to be provided;
(iii) the geographical diversity and extent of the service area; and
(iv) the type and percentage of funding and in-kind commitment from other sources under paragraph (3).

(g) EVALUATIONS.—

(1) THIRD AND EIGHTH YEAR EVALUATIONS BY PANEL.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall ensure that each Center is evaluated during its third and eighth years of operation by an evaluation panel appointed by the Secretary.

(B) COMPOSITION.—The Secretary shall ensure that each evaluation panel appointed under subparagraph (A) is composed of—

(i) private experts, none of whom are connected with the Center evaluated by the panel; and
(ii) Federal officials.

(C) CHAIRPERSON.—For each evaluation panel appointed under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall appoint a chairperson who is an official of the Institute.

(2) FIFTH YEAR EVALUATIONS BY SECRETARY.—In the fifth year of operation of a Center, the Secretary shall conduct a review of the Center.

(3) PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT.—In evaluating a Center an evaluation panel or the Secretary, as applicable, shall measure the performance of the Center against—

(A) the objective specified in subsection (c);

(B) the performance metrics under subsection (f)(2)(C); and

(C) such other criterion as considered appropriate by the Secretary.

(4) POSITIVE EVALUATIONS.—If an evaluation of a Center is positive, the Secretary may continue to provide financial assistance for the Center—

(A) in the case of an evaluation occurring in the third year of a Center, through the fifth year of the Center;

(B) in the case of an evaluation occurring in the fifth year of a Center, through the eighth year of the Center; and

(C) in the case of an evaluation occurring in the eighth year of a Center, through the tenth year of the Center.

(5) OTHER THAN POSITIVE EVALUATIONS.—

(A) PROBATION.—If an evaluation of a Center is other than positive, the Secretary shall put the Center on probation during the period beginning on the date that the Center receives notice under subparagraph (B)(i) and ending on the date that the reevaluation is complete under subparagraph (B)(iii).

(B) NOTICE AND REEVALUATION.—If a Center receives an evaluation that is other than positive, the evaluation panel or Secretary, as applicable, shall—

(i) notify the Center of the reason, including any deficiencies in the performance of the Center identified during the evaluation;
(ii) assist the Center in remedying the deficiencies by providing the Center, not less frequently than once every 3 months, an analysis of the Center, if considered appropriate by the panel or Secretary, as applicable; and
(iii) reevaluate the Center not later than 1 year after the date of the notice under clause (i).

(C) CONTINUED SUPPORT DURING PERIOD OF PROBATION.—

(i) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may continue to provide financial assistance under subsection (e) for a Center during the probation period.
(ii) POST PROBATION.—After the period of probation, the Secretary shall not provide any financial assistance unless the Center has received a positive evaluation under subparagraph (B)(iii).

(6) FAILURE TO REMEDY.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—If a Center fails to remedy a deficiency or to show significant improvement in performance before the end of the probation period under paragraph (5), the Secretary shall conduct a competition to select an operator for the Center under subsection (h).

(B) TREATMENT OF CENTERS SUBJECT TO NEW COMPETITION.—Upon the selection of an operator for a Center under subsection (h), the Center shall be considered a new Center and the calculation of the years of operation of that Center for purposes of paragraphs (1) through (5) of this subsection and subsection (h)(1) shall start anew.

(h) REAPPLICATION COMPETITION FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AFTER 10 YEARS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—If an eligible entity has operated a Center under this section for a period of 10 consecutive years, the Secretary shall conduct a competition to select an eligible entity to operate the Center in accordance with the process plan under subsection (i).

(2) INCUMBENT ELIGIBLE ENTITIES.—An eligible entity that has received financial assistance under this section for a period of 10 consecutive years and that the Secretary determines is in good standing shall be eligible to compete in the competition under paragraph (1).

(3) TREATMENT OF CENTERS SUBJECT TO REAPPLICATION COMPETITION.—Upon the selection of an operator for a Center under paragraph (1), the Center shall be considered a new Center and the calculation of the years of operation of that Center for purposes of paragraphs (1) through (5) of subsection (g) shall start anew.

(i) PROCESS PLAN.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, the Secretary shall implement and submit to Congress a plan for how the Institute will conduct an evaluation, competition, and reapplication competition under this section.

(j) OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS.—

(1) PROTECTION OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION OF CENTER CLIENTS.—The following information, if obtained by the Federal Government in connection with an activity of a Center or the Program, shall be exempt from public disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code:

(A) Information on the business operation of any participant in the Program or of a client of a Center.

(B) Trade secrets of any client of a Center.

(k) OVERSIGHT BOARDS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—As a condition on receipt of financial assistance for a Center under subsection (e), an eligible entity shall establish a board to oversee the operations of the Center.

(2) STANDARDS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The Director shall establish appropriate standards for each board described under paragraph (1).

(B) CONSIDERATIONS.—In establishing the standards, the Director shall take into account the type and organizational structure of an eligible entity.

(C) REQUIREMENTS.—The standards shall address—

(i) membership;
(ii) composition;
(iii) term limits;
(iv) conflicts of interest; and
(v) such other requirements as the Director considers necessary.

(3) MEMBERSHIP.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Each board established under paragraph (1) shall be composed of members as follows:

(i) The membership of each board shall be representative of stakeholders in the region in which the Center is located.
(ii) A majority of the members of the board shall be selected from among individuals who own or are employed by small or medium-sized manufacturers.

(B) LIMITATION.—A member of a board established under paragraph (1) may not serve on more than 1 board established under that paragraph.

(4) BYLAWS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Each board established under paragraph (1) shall adopt and submit to the Director bylaws to govern the operation of the board.

(B) CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.—Bylaws adopted under subparagraph (A) shall include policies to minimize conflicts of interest, including such policies relating to disclosure of relationships and recusal as may be necessary to minimize conflicts of interest.

(l) ACCEPTANCE OF FUNDS.—In addition to such sums as may be appropriated to the Secretary and Director to operate the Program, the Secretary and Director may also accept funds from other Federal departments and agencies and from the private sector under section 2(c)(7) of this Act (15 U.S.C. 272(c)(7)), to be available to the extent provided by appropriations Acts, for the purpose of strengthening United States manufacturing.

(m) MEP ADVISORY BOARD.—

(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—There is established within the Institute a Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board.

(2) MEMBERSHIP.—

(A) COMPOSITION.—

(i) IN GENERAL.—The MEP Advisory Board shall consist of not fewer than 10 members appointed by the Director and broadly representative of stakeholders.
(ii) REQUIREMENTS.—Of the members appointed under clause (i)—

(I) at least 2 members shall be employed by or on an advisory board for a Center;
(II) at least 5 members shall be from United States small businesses in the manufacturing sector; and
(III) at least 1 member shall represent a community college.

(iii) LIMITATION.—No member of the MEP Advisory Board shall be an employee of the Federal Government.

(B) TERM.—Except as provided in subparagraph (C), the term of office of each member of the MEP Advisory Board shall be 3 years.

(C) VACANCIES.—Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall be appointed for the remainder of such term.

(D) SERVING CONSECUTIVE TERMS.—Any person who has completed 2 consecutive full terms of service on the MEP Advisory Board shall thereafter be ineligible for appointment during the 1-year period following the expiration of the second such term.

(3) MEETINGS.—The MEP Advisory Board shall—

(A) meet not less than biannually; and

(B) provide to the Director—

(i) advice on the activities, plans, and policies of the Program;
(ii) assessments of the soundness of the plans and strategies of the Program; and
(iii) assessments of current performance against the plans of the Program.

(4) FACA APPLICABILITY.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—In discharging its duties under this subsection, the MEP Advisory Board shall function solely in an advisory capacity, in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.).

(B) EXCEPTION.—Section 14 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to the MEP Advisory Board.

(5) ANNUAL REPORT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—At a minimum, the MEP Advisory Board shall transmit an annual report to the Secretary for transmittal to Congress not later than 30 days after the submission to Congress of the President’s annual budget under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.

(B) CONTENTS.—The report shall address the status of the Program and describe the relevant sections of the programmatic planning document and updates thereto transmitted to Congress by the Director under subsections (c) and (d) of section 23 (15 U.S.C. 278i).

(n) SMALL MANUFACTURERS.—

(1) EVALUATION OF OBSTACLES.—As part of the Program, the Director shall—

(A) identify obstacles that prevent small manufacturers from effectively competing in the global market;

(B) implement a comprehensive plan to train the Centers to address the obstacles identified in paragraph (2); and

(C) facilitate improved communication between the Centers to assist such manufacturers in implementing appropriate, targeted solutions to the obstacles identified in paragraph (2).

(2) DEVELOPMENT OF OPEN ACCESS RESOURCES.—As part of the Program, the Secretary shall develop open access resources that address best practices related to inventory sourcing, supply chain management, manufacturing techniques, available Federal resources, and other topics to further the competitiveness and profitability of small manufacturers.’’.

(c) COMPETITIVE AWARDS PROGRAM.—The National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 271 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 25 the following:

SEC. 25A. COMPETITIVE AWARDS PROGRAM.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Director shall establish within the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership under section 25 (15 U.S.C. 278k) and section 26 (15 U.S.C. 278l) a program of competitive awards among participants described in subsection (b) of this section for the purposes described in subsection (c).

(b) PARTICIPANTS.—Participants receiving awards under this section shall be Centers, or a consortium of Centers.

(c) PURPOSE, THEMES, AND REIMBURSEMENT.—

(1) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the program established under subsection (a) is to add capabilities to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, including the development of projects to solve new or emerging manufacturing problems as determined by the Director, in consultation with the Director of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the MEP Advisory Board, other Federal agencies, and small and medium-sized manufacturers.

(2) THEMES.—The Director may identify 1 or more themes for a competition carried out under this section, which may vary from year to year, as the Director considers appropriate after assessing the needs of manufacturers and the success of previous competitions.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT.—Centers may be reimbursed for costs incurred by the Centers under this section.

(d) APPLICATIONS.—Applications for awards under this section shall be submitted in such manner, at such time, and containing such information as the Director shall require in consultation with the MEP Advisory Board.

(e) SELECTION.—

(1) PEER REVIEW AND COMPETITIVELY AWARDED.—The Director shall ensure that awards under this section are peer reviewed and competitively awarded.

(2) GEOGRAPHIC DIVERSITY.—The Director shall endeavor to have broad geographic diversity among selected proposals.

(3) CRITERIA.—The Director shall select applications to receive awards that the Director determines will achieve 1 or more of the following:

(A) Improve the competitiveness of industries in the region in which the Center or Centers are located.

(B) Create jobs or train newly hired employees.

(C) Promote the transfer and commercialization of research and technology from institutions of higher education, national laboratories or other federally funded research programs, and nonprofit research institutes.

(D) Recruit a diverse manufacturing workforce, including through outreach to underrepresented populations, including individuals identified in section 33 or section 34 of the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act (42 U.S.C. 1885a, 1885b).

(E) Such other result as the Director determines will advance the objective set forth in section 25(c) (15 U.S.C. 278k) or in section 26 (15 U.S.C. 278l).

(f) PROGRAM CONTRIBUTION.—Recipients of awards under this section shall not be required to provide a matching contribution.

(g) GLOBAL MARKETPLACE PROJECTS.—In making an award under this section, the Director, in consultation with the MEP Advisory Board and the Secretary, may take into consideration whether an application has significant potential for enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized United States manufacturers in the global marketplace.

(h) DURATION.—The duration of an award under this section shall be for not more than 3 years.

(i) DEFINITIONS.—The terms used in this section have the meanings given the terms in section 25 (15 U.S.C. 278k).’’.

(d) REPORTS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States, in consultation with the MEP Advisory Board (as defined in section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k)), shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report analyzing—

(A) the effectiveness of the changes in the cost share to Centers under section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k);

(B) the engagement in services and the characteristics of services provided by 2 types of Centers, including volume and type of service; and

(C) whether the cost-sharing ratio has any effect on the services provided by either type of Center.

(2) INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 3 years after the date of submission of the report under paragraph (1), the Director of NIST shall contract with an independent organization to perform an assessment of the implementation of the reapplication competition process.

(B) CONSULTATION.—The independent organization performing the assessment under subparagraph (A) may consult with the MEP Advisory Board (as defined in section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k)).

(3) COMPARISON OF CENTERS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report providing information on the first and second years of operations for Centers (as defined in section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k)) operating from new competitions or recompetition as compared to longstanding Centers.

(B) CONTENTS.—The report shall provide detail on the engagement in services provided by Centers and the characteristics of services provided, including volume and type of services, so that the appropriate committees of Congress can evaluate whether the cost-sharing ratio has an effect on the services provided at Centers.

(e) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.—

(1) DEFINITIONS.—Section 2199(3) of title 10, United States Code, is amended—

(A) by striking ‘‘regional center’’ and inserting ‘‘manufacturing extension center’’;

(B) by inserting ‘‘and best business practices’’ before ‘‘referred’’; and

(C) by striking ‘‘25(a)’’ and inserting ‘‘25(b)’’.

(2) ENTERPRISE INTEGRATION INITIATIVE.—Section 3(a) of the Enterprise Integration Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 278g–5(a)) is amended by inserting ‘‘Hollings’’ before ‘‘Manufacturing Extension Partnership’’.

(3) ASSISTANCE TO STATE TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS.—Section 26(a) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278l(a)) is amended by striking ‘‘Centers program created’’ and inserting ‘‘Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership’’.

(f) SAVINGS PROVISIONS.—Notwithstanding the amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the Secretary of Commerce may carry out section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k) as that section was in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act, with respect to existing grants, agreements, cooperative agreements, or contracts, and with respect to applications for such items that are received by the Secretary prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

(g) PATENT RIGHTS.—The provisions of chapter 18 of title 35, United States Code, shall apply, to the extent not inconsistent with section 25 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k) and section 25 of that Act, to the promotion of technology from research by Centers under those sections, except for contracts for such specific technology extension or transfer services as may be specified by the Director of NIST or under other law.

NIST MEP Rule

Code of Federal Regulations
Title 15, Volume 1
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access [CITE: 15CFR290]

TITLE 15--COMMERCE AND FOREIGN TRADE CHAPTER II--NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE PART 290--REGIONAL CENTERS FOR THE TRANSFER OF MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY

Table of Contents Sec. 290.1 Purpose. 290.2 Definitions. 290.3 Program description. 290.4 Terms and schedule of financial assistance. 290.5 Basic proposal qualifications. 290.6 Proposal evaluation and selection criteria. 290.7 Proposal selection process. 290.8 Reviews of centers. 290.9 Intellectual property rights. Authority: 15 U.S.C. 278k. Source: 55 FR 38275, Sept.17, 1990, unless otherwise noted.

Sec. 290.1 Purpose. This rule provides policy for a program to establish Regional Centers for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology as well as the prescribed policies and procedures to insure the fair, equitable and uniform treatment of proposals for assistance. In addition, the rule provides general guidelines for the management of the program by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as criteria for the evaluation of the Centers, throughout the lifecycle of financial assistance to the Centers by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Sec. 290.2 Definitions. (a) The phrase advanced manufacturing technology refers to new technologies which have recently been developed, or are currently under development, for use in product or part design, fabrication, assembly, quality control, or improving production efficiency. (b) The term Center or Regional Center means a NIST-established Regional Center for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology described under these procedures. (c) The term operating award means a cooperative agreement which provides funding and technical assistance to a Center for purposes set forth in Sec.290.3 of these procedures. (d) The term Director means the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (e) The term NIST means the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce. (f) The term Program or Centers Program means the NIST program for establishment of, support for, and cooperative interaction with Regional Centers for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology. (g) The term qualified proposal means a proposal submitted by a nonprofit organization which meets the basic requirements set forth in Sec. 290.5 of these procedures. (h) The term Secretary means the Secretary of Commerce. (i) The term target firm means those firms best able to absorb advanced manufacturing technologies and techniques, especially those developed at NIST, and which are already well prepared in an operational, management and financial sense to improve the levels of technology they employ.

Sec. 290.3 Program description. (a) The Secretary, acting through the Director, shall provide technical and financial assistance for the creation and support of Regional Centers for the Transfer of Manufacturing Technology. Each Center shall be affiliated with a U.S.-based nonprofit institution or organization which has submitted a qualified proposal for a Center Operating Award under these procedures. Support may be provided for a period not to exceed six years. The Centers work with industry, universities, nonprofit economic development organizations and state governments to transfer advanced manufacturing technologies, processes, and methods as defined in Sec. 290.2 to small and medium sized firms. These technology transfer efforts focus on the continuous and incremental improvement of the target firms. The advanced manufacturing technology, which is the focus of the Centers, is the subject of research in NIST's Automated Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF). The core of AMRF research has principally been applied in discrete part manufacturing, including electronics, composites, plastics, and metal parts fabrication and assembly. Centers will be afforded the opportunity for interaction with the AMRF and will be given access to research projects and results to strengthen their technology transfer. Where elements of a solution are available from an existing source, they should be employed. Where private-sector consultants who can meet the needs of a small- or medium-sized manufacturer are available, they should handle the task. Each Center should bring to bear the technology expertise described in Sec. 290.3(d) to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms in adopting advanced manufacturing technology. (b) Program objective. The objective of the NIST Manufacturing Technology Centers is to enhance productivity and technological performance in United States manufacturing. This will be accomplished through: (1) The transfer of manufacturing technology and techniques developed at NIST to Centers and, through them, to manufacturing companies throughout the United States; (2) The participation of individuals from industry, universities, State governments, other Federal agencies, and, when appropriate, NIST in cooperative technology transfer activities; (3) Efforts to make new manufacturing technology and processes usable by United States-based small- and medium-sized companies; (4) The active dissemination of scientific, engineering, technical, and management information about manufacturing to industrial firms, including small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies; and (5) The utilization, when appropriate, of the expertise and capability that exists in Federal laboratories other than NIST. (c) Center activities. The activities of the Centers shall include: (1) The establishment of automated manufacturing systems and other advanced production technologies based on research by NIST and other Federal laboratories for the purpose of demonstrations and technology transfer; (2) The active transfer and dissemination of research findings and Center expertise to a wide range of companies and enterprises, particularly small- and medium-sized manufacturers; and (3) Loans, on a selective, short-term basis, of items of advanced manufacturing equipment to small manufacturing firms with less than 100 employees. (d) Center organization and operation. Each Center will be organized to transfer advanced manufacturing technology to small and medium sized manufacturers located in its service region. Regional Centers will be established and operated via cooperative agreements between NIST and the award-receiving organizations. Individual awards shall be decided on the basis of merit review, geographical diversity, and the availability of funding. (e) Leverage. The Centers program must concentrate on approaches which can be applied to other companies, in other regions, or by other organizations. The lessons learned in assisting a particular target firm should be documented in order to facilitate the use of those lessons by other target firms. A Center should build on unique solutions developed for a single company to develop techniques of broad applicability. It should seek wide implementation with well-developed mechanisms for distribution of results. Leverage is the principle of developing less resource-intensive methods of delivering technologies (as when a Center staff person has the same impact on ten firms as was formerly obtained with the resources used for one, or when a project once done by the Center can be carried out for dozens of companies by the private sector or a state or local organization.) Leverage does not imply a larger non- federal funding match (that is, greater expenditure of non-federal dollars for each federal dollar) but rather a greater impact per dollar. (f) Regional impact. A new Center should not begin by spreading its resources too thinly over too large a geographic area. It should concentrate first on establishing its structure, operating style, and client base within a manageable service area.

Sec. 290.4 Terms and schedule of financial assistance. The Secretary may provide up to 50 percent of the capital and annual operating and maintenance funds required to establish and support an MEP Center. (as amended on 27 Jun 2017, Federal Register 82, 122, p. 28944.)

Sec. 290.5 Basic proposal qualifications. (a) NIST shall designate each proposal which satisfies the qualifications criteria below as "qualified proposal" and subject the qualified proposals to a merit review. Applications which do not meet the requirements of this section will not receive further consideration. (1) Qualified organizations. Any nonprofit institution, or group thereof, or consortium of nonprofit institutions, including entities which already exist or may be incorporated specifically to manage the Center. (2) Proposal format. Proposals for Center Operating Awards shall: (i) Be submitted with a Standard Form 424 to the above address; (ii) Not exceed 25 typewritten pages in length for the basic proposal document (which must include the information requirements of paragraph (a)(3) of this section); it may be accompanied by additional appendices of relevant supplementary attachments and tabular material. Basic proposal documents which exceed 25 pages in length will not be qualified for further review. (3) Proposal requirements. In order to be considered for a Center Operating Award, proposals must contain: (i) A plan for the allocation of intellectual property rights associated with any invention or copyright which may result from the involvement in the Center's technology transfer or research activities consistent with the conditions of Sec. 290.9; (ii) A statement which provides adequate assurances that the host organization will contribute 50 percent or more of the proposed Center's capital and annual operating and maintenance costs for the first three years and an increasing share for each of the following three additional years. Applicants should provide evidence that the proposed Center will be self-supporting after six years. (iii) A statement describing linkages to industry, government, and educational organizations within its service region. (iv) A statement defining the initial service region including a statement of the constituency to be served and the level of service to be provided, as well as outyear plans. (v) A statement agreeing to focus the mission of the Center on technology transfer activities and not to exclude companies based on state boundaries. (vi) A proposed plan for the annual evaluation of the success of the Center by the Program, including appropriate criteria for consideration, and weighting of those criteria. (vii) A plan to focus the Center's technology emphasis on areas consistent with NIST technology research programs and organizational expertise. (viii) A description of the planned Center sufficient to permit NIST to evaluate the proposal in accordance with Sec. 290.6 of these procedures. (b) [Reserved]

Sec. 290.6 Proposal evaluation and selection criteria. (a) In making a decision whether to provide financial support, NIST shall review and evaluate all qualified proposals in accordance with the following criteria, assigning equal weight to each of the four categories. (1) Identification of target firms in proposed region. Does the proposal define an appropriate service region with a large enough population of target firms of small- and medium-sized manufacturers which the applicant understands and can serve, and which is not presently served by an existing Center? (i) Market analysis. Demonstrated understanding of the service region's manufacturing base, including business size, industry types, product mix, and technology requirements. (ii) Geographical location. Physical size, concentration of industry, and economic significance of the service region's manufacturing base. Geographical diversity of Centers will be a factor in evaluation of proposals; a proposal for a Center located near an existing Center may be considered only if the proposal is unusually strong and the population of manufacturers and the technology to be addressed justify it. (2) Technology resources. Does the proposal assure strength in technical personnel and programmatic resources, full-time staff, facilities, equipment, and linkages to external sources of technology to develop and transfer technologies related to NIST research results and expertise in the technical areas noted in these procedures? (3) Technology delivery mechanisms. Does the proposal clearly and sharply define an effective methodology for delivering advanced manufacturing technology to small- and medium-sized manufacturers. Development of effective partnerships or linkages to third parties such as industry, universities, nonprofit economic organizations, and state governments who will amplify the Center's technology delivery to reach a large number of clients in its service region. (ii) Program leverage. Provision of an effective strategy to amplify the Center's technology delivery approaches to achieve the proposed objectives as described in Sec. 290.3(e). (4) Management and financial plan. Does the proposal define a management structure and assure management personnel to carry out development and operation of an effective Center? (i) Organizational structure. Completeness and appropriateness of the organizational structure, and its focus on the mission of the Center. Assurance of full-time top management of the Center. (ii) Program management. Effectiveness of the planned methodology of program management. (iii) Internal evaluation. Effectiveness of the planned continuous internal evaluation of program activities. (iv) Plans for financial matching. Demonstrated stability and duration of the applicant's funding commitments as well as the percentage of operating and capital costs guaranteed by the applicant. Identification of matching fund sources and the general terms of the funding commitments. Evidence of the applicant's ability to become self- sustaining in six years. (v) Budget. Suitability and focus of the applicant's detailed one- year budget and six-year budget outline.

Sec. 290.7 Proposal selection process. Upon the availability of funding to establish Regional Centers, the Director shall publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting submission of proposals from interested organizations. Applicants will be given an established time frame, not less than 60 days from the publication date of the notice, to prepare and submit a proposal. The proposal evaluation and selection process will consist of four principal phases: Proposal qualification; Proposal review and selection of finalists; Finalist site visits; and, Award determination. Further descriptions of these phases are provided in the following: (a) Proposal qualification. All proposals will be reviewed by NIST to assure compliance with Sec. 290.5 of these procedures. Proposals which satisfy these requirements will be designated qualified proposals; all others will be disqualified at this phase of the evaluation and selection process. (b) Proposal review and selection of finalists. The Director of NIST will appoint an evaluation panel to review and evaluate all qualified proposals in accordance with the criteria set forth in section 290.6 of these procedures, assigning equal weight to each of the four categories. From the qualified proposals, a group of finalists will be selected based on this review. (c) Finalist site visits. NIST representatives will visit each finalist organization. Finalists will be reviewed and assigned numeric scores using the criteria set forth in Sec. 290.6 of these procedures assigning equal weight to each of the four categories. NIST may enter into negotiations with the finalists concerning any aspect of their proposal. (d) Award determination. The Director of NIST or his designee shall select awardees for Center Operating Awards based upon the rank order of applicants, the need to assure appropriate regional distribution, and the availability of funds. Upon the final award decision, a notification will be made to each of the proposing organizations.

Sec. 290.8 Reviews of centers. (a) Overview. Each Center will be reviewed at least annually, and at the end of its third year of operation according to the procedures and criteria set out below. There will be regular management interaction with NIST and the other Centers for the purpose of evaluation and program shaping. Centers are encouraged to try new approaches, must evaluate their effectiveness, and abandon or adjust those which do not have the desired impact. (b) Annual reviews of centers. Centers will be reviewed annually as part of the funding renewal process using the criteria set out in Sec. 290.8(d). The funding level at which a Center is renewed is contingent upon a positive program evaluation and will depend upon the availability of federal funds and on the Center's ability to obtain suitable match, as well as on the budgetary requirements of its proposed program. Centers must continue to demonstrate that they will be self- supporting after six years. (c) Third year review of centers. Each host receiving a Center Operating Award under these procedures shall be evaluated during its third year of operation by a Merit Review Panel appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Each such Merit Review Panel shall be composed of private experts, none of whom shall be connected with the involved Center, and Federal officials. An official of NIST shall chair the panel. Each Merit Review Panel shall measure the involved Center's performance against the criteria set out in Sec. 290.8(d). The Secretary shall not provide funding for the fourth through the sixth years of such Center's operation unless the evaluation is positive on all grounds. As a condition of receiving continuing funding, the Center must show evidence at the third year review that they are making substantial progress toward self-sufficiency. If the evaluation is positive and funds are available, the Secretary of Commerce may provide continued funding through the sixth year at declining levels, which are designed to insure that the Center no longer needs financial support from NIST by the seventh year. In no event shall funding for a Center be provided by the NIST Manufacturing Technology Centers Program after the sixth year of support. (d) Criteria for annual and third year reviews. Centers will be evaluated under the following criteria in each of the annual reviews, as well as the third year review: (1) The program objectives specified in Sec. 290.3(b) of these procedures; (2) Funds-matching performance; (3) The extent to which the target firms have successfully implemented recently developed or currently developed advanced manufacturing technology and techniques transferred by the Center; (4) The extent to which successes are properly documented and there has been further leveraging or use of a particular advanced manufacturing technology or process; (5) The degree to which there is successful operation of a network, or technology delivery mechanism, involving the sharing or dissemination of information related to manufacturing technologies among industry, universities, nonprofit economic development organizations and state governments. (6) The extent to which the Center can increasingly develop continuing resources--both technological and financial--such that the Centers are finally financially self-sufficient.

Sec. 290.9 Intellectual property rights. (a) Awards under the Program will follow the policies and procedures on ownership to inventions made under grants and cooperative agreements that are set out in Public Law 96-517 (35 U.S.C. chapter 18), the Presidential Memorandum on Government Patent Policy to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies Dated February 18, 1983, and part 401 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as appropriate. These policies and procedures generally require the Government to grant to Centers selected for funding the right to elect to obtain title to any invention made in the course of the conduct of research under an award, subject to the reservation of a Government license. (b) Except as otherwise specifically provided for in an Award, Centers selected for funding under the Program may establish claim to copyright subsisting in any data first produced in the performance of the award. When claim is made to copyright, the funding recipient shall affix the applicable copyright notice of 17 U.S.C. 401 or 402 and acknowledgment of Government sponsorship to the data when and if the data are delivered to the Government, are published, or are deposited for registration as a published work in the U.S. Copyright Office. For data other than computer software, the funding recipient shall grant to the Government, and others acting on its behalf, a paid up, nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license for all such data to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government. For computer software, the funding recipient shall grant to the Government, and others acting on its behalf, a paid up, nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license for all such computer software to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government. Authority: 15 U.S.C. 278k. Source: 55 FR 38275, Sept. 17, 1990, unless otherwise noted.

Contacts

For General Information

  • MEP Headquarters
    (301) 975-5020
    100 Bureau Drive, M/S 4800
    Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800
Created September 5, 2014, Updated November 15, 2019