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New Program to Fund Monitoring, Inspection Technologies for Public Infrastructure

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that it is seeking proposals for high-risk research projects to develop innovative technologies for inspecting, monitoring and evaluating critical components of the nation's roadways, bridges, and drinking and wastewater systems. The competition for cost-shared research and development (R&D) support is the first to be announced by NIST's newly established Technology Innovation Program (TIP) in an effort to address critical societal challenges.

NIST announced that, based on FY2008 funds, it expects to award approximately $9 million in first-year funding for R&D projects focused on new, efficient, accurate, low-cost and reliable sensors and related technologies that provide quantitative assessments of the structural integrity or degree of deterioration of bridges, roads, water mains and wastewater collection systems. The competition, program officials said, addresses a critical national need for improved sensing technologies to help local, state and national authorities more cost-effectively monitor and maintain the Nation's vast public infrastructure, some portions of which have been in place for many years and are rapidly and dangerously aging.

"As a society we stand atop what most authorities believe is an increasingly shaky platform of aging transportation and public utility systems, including roadways, bridges, and water and wastewater pipelines," said TIP Director Marc Stanley. "It's estimated, for example, that nationwide we lose about 15 percent of our treated drinking water to leaky pipelines, and a major bridge collapse in Minneapolis last year that took 13 lives is a sobering reminder that infrastructure failures can cost far more than just money. With this first TIP competition we hope to foster significant technology innovations to assist our Nation's engineers in monitoring and maintaining these critical systems."

TIP was established by the 2007 America COMPETES Act to support, promote and accelerate innovation in the United States through high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need. The merit-based competitive program can fund cost-shared R&D projects by single small-sized or medium-sized businesses or by joint ventures. Small-sized and medium-sized businesses, institutions of higher education, non-profit research organizations and national laboratories are eligible for TIP support, with some restrictions on the size of companies, ownership and the types of research that are eligible. TIP awards are limited to no more than $3 million total over three years for a single company project and no more than $9 million total over five years for a joint venture.

Proposals for the current TIP competition must be received by NIST by 3 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008. Proposers may submit proposals by paper or electronically through the Web site. Review, selection, and award processing is expected to be completed by the end of November 2008.

Additional information on the TIP 2008 competition can be found on the competition Web page at [link removed], and includes:

  • the Federal Register notice of the competition;
  • the announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) posted on;
  • the TIP White Paper "Advanced Sensing Technologies for the Infrastructure: Roads, Highways, Bridges and Water Systems," which outlines the civil infrastructure inspection and monitoring elements of this competition; and
  • the June 2008 Technology Innovation Program Proposal Preparation Kit, which must be used to prepare a TIP proposal.

TIP is holding public meetings (Proposers' Conferences) at several locations around the country to provide general information regarding TIP, guidance on preparing proposals, and the opportunity for questions and answers. These conferences are being held at the following dates, times, and locations:

  • July 16, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CDT: St. Louis Airport Marriott, 10700 Pear Tree Lane, St. Louis, Mo. (314-253-5121)
  • July 16, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CDT: Renaissance Houston, 6 Greenway Plaza, East Houston, Texas (713-850-2310)
  • July 17, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. EDT: Holiday Inn Atlanta Airport North, 1380 Virginia Avenue, Atlanta, Ga. (404-838-0029)
  • July 17, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PDT: Holiday Inn Portland Airport, 8439 North East Columbia Boulevard, Portland, Ore. (503-914-5253)
  • July 18, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PDT: Doubletree San Jose, 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose, Calif. (408-437-2124)
  • July 21, 2008, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT: Boston Courtyard Downtown, 275 Tremont Street, Boston, Mass. (781-537-5594)
  • July 22, 2008, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. EDT: NIST Red Auditorium, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Md. (301-975-8910)

Those wishing to attend the July 22 Proposers' Conference at NIST's Gaithersburg, Md. facility must pre-register by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on July 16, 2008, by going to the Web page at [link removed]. No on-site registrations will be accepted. Photo identification must be presented at the NIST main gate to be admitted to the July 22, 2008 conference. Same day registration will be allowed at the other locations.

No registration fee will be charged for any of the Proposers' Conferences. Presentation materials from Proposers' Conferences will be made available on the TIP Web site.

Released July 9, 2008, Updated January 23, 2023