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American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Policy Impact 2022

Remarks as prepared.

Thank you, Tom, for that kind introduction. I am genuinely excited to be able to join all of you here today.

ASME has been a tremendous partner with NIST over the years in efforts to strengthen advanced manufacturing capabilities and in standards development — for instance, ASME is publishing a new standard for 3D printing based in large part on research conducted at NIST. And as we look to the future there are clear areas of mutual interest including the topics you will be discussing today.

I should start though by saying that I am so grateful for this opportunity President Biden gave me when he nominated me for this position; and I hit the ground running when I was confirmed a few weeks ago to act on the administration’s priorities.

NIST is the nation’s oldest physical science laboratory, and we have a proud history of working closely with industry to support their needs. As industry’s national laboratory, NIST is dedicated to supporting U.S. competitiveness across a broad range of sectors.

As many of you here know, NIST works across the continuum from the most fundamental measurement science research that leads to new discoveries, to applied research that solves the more immediate problems of today, to new tools, standards, and networks that support industry and grow a robust manufacturing base for the U.S. 

At this time, NIST is being called on to help resolve difficult supply chain issues, to implement one of the most significant new programs to bolster the semiconductor industry, secure our cyberspace, make our country more resilient and buildings safer including through the investigation of the collapse of Champlain Towers South, and to increase the opportunity for everyone to succeed whatever their gender, race or background.

In addition, the president has called on us to lead the way in the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing through the work of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Manufacturing USA program.

It is truly an exciting time to be at NIST. 

I am committed to ensuring that NIST is positioned and resourced to support America's competitiveness so that our workers, and our companies and small businesses can succeed in the global economy.

With that, I’d like to share four of my top priorities for NIST for the coming months. These are in no particular order.

First: Critical and emerging technologies. We must ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in the development and deployment of critical and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, next generation communications, quantum information science and biotechnology, as these are essential for the future U.S. economy.

Scientific and technological advances in all of these fields have expanded opportunities for industry — but also created challenges — and that is why NIST’s research to develop the measurements and standards that cultivate trust in technology is so critical.

Recognizing this important role, the president’s FY 2023 budget request calls for an additional $80 million to expand and strengthen NIST’s capabilities targeting critical and emerging technologies.

Along with our internal research program in measurement science, an important focus of NIST’s efforts in critical and emerging technologies is our work to strengthen U.S. engagement in standards development. 

With growing foreign competition in standards development, there is a clear need for greater attention to our standards system. It is more important now than ever for U.S. leadership in international standards to protect our position, and to ensure that the standards development process remains global, transparent and fair.

We need industry’s continued commitment to the United States policy of bottom-up, industry-led standards development. We should also continue to expand our investments in the underpinning R&D efforts, including the efforts at NIST and in industry, so that the United States presents the strongest technical contributions in standards efforts. The work that ASME supports in this space is immensely important.

I look forward to working with you and other industry partners as NIST expands its efforts: 1) to coordinate policy and regulations to facilitate private and public sector engagement in international standards; 2) to ensure that the U.S. is a welcoming location for hosting international standards events; 3) to reduce barriers to industrial participation in standards setting, especially by small and medium-sized companies; and 4) to facilitate professional development in standards setting.

Second: advanced manufacturing. In this area, NIST and ASME have many shared goals. 

A partner to the U.S. manufacturing sector for more than a century, NIST has a proven track record in delivering useful tools and technical assistance that existing and new manufacturers need to be successful.

I will work to ensure that the research across the NIST laboratories and the efforts of the MEP and the Manufacturing USA program are aligned and coordinated to provide the research, technologies, data, standards and services necessary to strengthen American manufacturing and improve supply chain resilience.

The president’s FY 2023 budget request for NIST includes a $117M increase in funding for MEP. Today, there are 51 MEP centers that work with manufacturers to help them develop new products and customers, expand and diversify markets, adopt new technology, and enhance value within supply chains. The additional investment in MEP will strengthen the network’s efforts in supply chain resilience, but it will also launch new initiatives to expand the pool and diversity of workers in the manufacturing sector, and enable greater technology adoption by small and medium manufacturers.

The FY2023 budget request also includes $97 million to expand NIST’s role in Manufacturing USA. The U.S. government currently funds 16 Manufacturing USA Institutes. Each Manufacturing USA Institute is a public-private partnership with a distinct technology focus, working to secure the future of U.S. manufacturing through innovation, education and collaboration. These additional funds would allow NIST to sponsor four new institutes in areas to be determined as most relevant to current needs of U.S. industry.

In support of the efforts to plan for an expanded NIST Manufacturing USA program, NIST just announced seven new awards that bring together industry and other partners to create roadmaps identifying R&D needs, workforce needs, and manufacturing capabilities needs in areas that include infrastructure, quantum, AI, 5G, sustainability, and the equitable commercialization and industrialization of space.

Third: supply chain resilience and specifically CHIPS. It should go without saying that with passage of funding for the programs authorized in the FY 2021 NDAA known as the CHIPS Act, implementation of that program will one of the biggest priorities of the department, and NIST. Through incentives to expand manufacturing capacity and investment in R&D and prototyping activities, the CHIPS Act will ensure that our future U.S. semiconductor industry is robust and secure. NIST has been working closely with the department to plan for the successful implementation of the program.

In support of the department’s planning efforts, NIST issued a request for information to inform the design of programs to incentivize investment in semiconductor manufacturing facilities; provide for shared infrastructure to accelerate semiconductor R&D and prototyping; and support research related to advanced packaging and metrology to underpin a strong domestic semiconductor industry. The request closed on March 25 and NIST received over 200 unique responses from industry, academia and various trade organizations. In addition, NIST also hosted 16 outreach events which will also help inform the department’s planning for the implementation of these programs.

Fourth: cybersecurity. Cybersecurity cuts across all of the issues that I have already discussed.

For 50 years, NIST has conducted cybersecurity research and developed cybersecurity guidance leading to extraordinary technical advancements. 

At the heart of NIST’s work in cybersecurity is our work to deliver trusted cryptographic standards that are widely adopted by governments and industries globally. In this vein NIST has been working on the development of updated post-quantum cryptography standards, having led a multiyear effort to identify and select the next generation of algorithms, which we expect to announce in the very near future.

Additionally, NIST is working with the community to update the NIST Cybersecurity Framework with a focus on digital supply chain issues. The recent Solar Winds cyberattack, which inserted malicious code into systems across companies and government agencies through software updates, exposed our vulnerabilities in the software supply chain. I invite all of you to engage with us as we make these critical updates to the Cybersecurity Framework.

Let me conclude by again thanking Tom and ASME for the opportunity to talk to you about the important work that NIST and the Department of Commerce are engaged in. NIST is a small agency with incredibly important responsibilities related to global competitiveness, and the way we accomplish our work is to partner closely with other experts. I look forward to continuing to engage with ASME and your members as we work together to make America more innovative and competitive.

Created May 25, 2022